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Conference emphasises responsibility

12 February 2014

Warehouse managers have been cautioned not to over-use ear protection by the Health & Safety Executive.

This was a key message at the latest SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) Safety Conference.

Sarah Haynes, inspector for noise and vibration at the HSE says: "It is not a blanket approach, only use when necessary according to a risk based assessment.

"As a first step, do a rough assessment. It doesn’t have to be high-tech, and you don’t necessarily need to call in a consultant. It’s a judgement call, you know your business, you can do a lot yourself. Get a specialist in if you then have questions that you can’t answer. You may be able to find a solution yourself. Also consider good acoustic design that is able to absorb noise.”

The HSE also stated that 47% of ill-health RIDDORs are Hand-arm vibration related. The HSE also explains that some compliant equipment may not actually be safe as the understanding of the dangers has developed since the regulations were drawn up.

The HSE warned that while warehouse workers were not typically exposed to HAVs, some ancillary workers within the warehouse, such as workshop engineers, may be exposed when operating handheld power or high-pressure water jets, for example.

Storage firm SESS also gave a presentation advocating a damage reporting, no-blame culture for the warehouse. The company feels weekly visual inspections are a necessity, and should be carried out by responsible, competent person, with good eyesight. who is familiar with the warehouse.

It also advocated an annual or bi-annual inspection by a technically competent person, looking at rack damage and safety hazards.

SESS Technical Manager and Health and Safety Advisor Stewart Howard says: "The weekly inspections are crucial as they use the knowledge of the staff who know their work environment. For example, I once inspected a DC but did not spot a ‘dodgy’ beam, as it was hard to access and deep in the racking. I was told about it by a forklift operator who worked there, as he had ‘felt it’ when he was placing and lifting pallets from that section.”

Finally, the SEMA Safety Conference used actors Harry Gallagher and Richard Ely to dramatise how a warehouse manager behaved before and after a major accident resulting in a fatality. The audience was tasked with changing the outcome, suggestion what could have been said and done to convince those involved that safety was more important that meeting demand in a busy period.